HS2 in Hansard 11/06/2015

High Speed 2

3. Maggie Throup (Erewash) (Con): What progress
his Department has made on preparing for construction
of the High Speed 2 rail line. [900247]
The Secretary of State for Transport (Mr Patrick
We are currently undertaking a very
significant level of activity to prepare for construction
of phase 1. Preparations include growing HS2 Ltd’s
capability by bringing in senior teams with extensive
experience of major rail and infrastructure programmes;
commencing ground investigation works; progressing
the procurement of contractors to undertake £750 millionworth
of enabling works; and preparing to commence
procurement of contractors for the main civil works
this autumn.
Maggie Throup: Asmy right hon. Friend the Secretary
of State will be aware, many Erewash residents continue
to live with the uncertainty of the location of the east
midlands HS2 hub. Will he press HS2 Ltd for a final
decision on the hub’s location?
Mr McLoughlin: May I welcome my hon. Friend and
congratulate her on the fantastic result she secured in
the general election?
No decision on the phase 2 route and station locations
has yet been made. The Government intend to announce
a way forward on phase 2 later this year. I certainly
appreciate the uncertainty for those people around the
route that is being talked about, but it is absolutely
essential that we get the best possible connectivity to
serve the whole of the east midlands. I think that we are
all concerned to do that, but I certainly understand the
concerns raised by my hon. Friend.
Graham Stringer (Blackley and Broughton) (Lab): To
construct HS2 to Crewe, Manchester and Leeds, another
Bill, or Bills, will need to be prepared.When will they be
Mr McLoughlin: Let us take one step at a time. As
I have said, we have not yet confirmed the route. Once it
has been confirmed, that preparation work will be
undertaken. A separate Bill is being considered to deal
with another stage to phase 2—phase 2A—which would
go from Handsacre to Crewe.
Mr Simon Burns (Chelmsford) (Con): Does my right
hon. Friend accept that progress on the preparations for
the construction of HS2 have been delayed because of
the antiquated Victorian processes to get permissions
to build a major project of this nature? What are the
Government’s proposals to modernise and improve
the procedures?
Mr McLoughlin: I think that I am grateful to my
right hon. Friend for his helpful question. It is right that
we address people’s concerns, and I think that we are
making the progress that was set out when HS2 was
first promoted by the previous Government. The Bill
before the House is making good progress.
(SNP): First, I welcome the Secretary of State back to
his departmental position. I am sure we will find many
areas of commoninterest and purpose within this portfolio
to assist people in Scotland and across the UK.
On HS2, what meetings has the Secretary of State
had with the Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure,
Investment and Cities,MrKeith BrownMSP, the Scottish
Government Minister for Transport?
Mr McLoughlin: I note thatMr Brown said in another
Parliament that he had not met me, but I have spoken to
him on the phone on a number of occasions and am
more than happy to arrange a meeting with him. It is
very important that Scotland gets the benefit of HS2
from day one, and it will. Trains will continue to run on
conventional lines once they come off the high-speed
Drew Hendry:With respect to the Secretary of State’s
keenness to make progress, may I urge him to meet the
Scottish Government Minister as a matter of urgency?
Will he confirm that he will undertake to do so?
Mr McLoughlin: I will be more than happy to meet
Mr Brown when a time can be found that is convenient
to both of us.
Mrs Cheryl Gillan (Chesham and Amersham) (Con):
The Select Committee on HS2 will shortly visit the
Chilterns area of outstanding natural beauty, to see
the stunning national jewel we are all trying to protect
by getting extra tunnelling for the railway. May I invite
the Secretary of State to visit the Chilterns with me—I
know that he has visited on many previous occasions—to
look at the AONB and to see why the tunnelling is
essential to keep our manifesto pledges to
“build new infrastructure in an environmentally-sensitive way”
and to “maintain national protections” for AONBs?
Mr McLoughlin: As my right hon. Friend says, I have
visited the Chilterns on many occasions, but visiting
with her might be unresistable. [HON. MEMBERS:
“Irresistible!”] I might stick by the first word. I will go
and investigate, Mr Speaker and report back to the
House. If it can be arranged and fitted in with my diary,
I will be more than happy to visit.
Mr Clive Betts (Sheffield South East) (Lab): I welcome
the Government’s renewed commitment to HS2 and
look forward to the announcement later this year of the
precise route for phase 2. Will the Secretary of State
indicate whether any serious consideration is being
given to advancing the date for construction of the
Sheffield to Leeds section of phase 2? If it is, and if that
goes ahead, what will that mean for the parliamentary
Mr McLoughlin: There is great demand from Leeds,
Sheffield and other areas in the north for an accelerated
programme, which I understand. It is right that we go
through all the proper procedures. I am very pleased
that all the attempts to judicially review the Department
have been unsuccessful save for one, which was on a
very specific item. It is right that we act properly within
1313 Oral Answers 11 JUNE 2015 Oral Answers 1314
the rules and the law to enable those developments to
take place, but David Higgins is certainly looking at
that, and I very much support him in that objective.
Michael Fabricant (Lichfield) (Con): My right hon.
Friend will know that the upgrade works to Birmingham
New Street station are running more than a year overdue.
What assurance can he give me that construction work
on HS2 will not suffer a similar fate, causing disruption
not only to my constituents in Lichfield, but to those of
Mr Speaker in Buckingham.
Mr McLoughlin: How to curry favour, Mr Speaker!
My hon. Friend is right that there has been some
overrun at Birmingham New Street station. There are
occasions when big infrastructure projects overrun and
do not come in on budget, but I point out to him the
many projects that get done on time and well within
budget. Crossrail is a fantastic tribute to engineering in
this country, and it is on time and on budget. We are
getting better at delivering such very big projects.